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Jury rules that baby powder can cause ovarian cancer

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A jury has ruled in favor of a woman that says that her use of baby powder has caused her to become diagnosed with ovarian cancer

She used the powder for over 40 years

Multinational company Johnson and Johnson has just lost their third straight trial over claims that their baby powder causes ovarian cancer.

A jury from St. Louis has awarded Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California over $70 million. Deborah has been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer back in 2012, and she blamed Johnson and Johnson's Baby Powder for causing it since she has been using the powder for her feminine hygiene for over 40 years.

They should have put a warning on the label

Photo from: wikimedia commons

Photo from: wikimedia commons

The jury made the decision after about three hours of deliberation. In addition to the $70 million that Johnson and Johnson has to pay, Imerys Talc America, the supplier for the talc that's used for the baby powder, will also have to pay $2.5 million in damages.

One juror, Billie Ray, said that they should have put a warning on the label. She adds, “It seemed like Johnson & Johnson didn’t pay attention, it seemed like they didn’t care."

Giannecchini is extremely happy over the verdict. “I’ve waited for a long time for this,” she shares. “I’ve wanted this so badly.”

Carol Goodrich, spokeswoman for J&J said that the company will be appealing the verdict. “We are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” she adds.

So, does talc cause cancer or not?

Talc, a type of mineral that's used as the main component in talcum powder has been used in making baby powder since at least 1894, which was when Johnson and Johnson first came out with their baby powder.

Talc, in its natural form, can sometimes contain asbestos, a substance that's known to cause cancer when inhaled. However, all talcum products have been asbestos free since the 1970s.

In terms of causing ovarian cancer however, opinions have been mixed regarding the use of talc as some studies have reported an increase in the risk of ovarian cancer, while other studies show no apparent increase whatsoever.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) shares three important points regarding whether talc can cause cancer or not:

  • They classify talc that contains asbestos as "carcinogenic to humans."
  • On the other hand, inhaling talc without asbestos has not been found to be cancerous in humans.
  • However, regarding the use of talc in the genital area, the IARC classifies talc as "possibly carcinogenic to humans."

It still isn't clear if talc really is cancer causing or not. However, if you believe that talc can cause cancer, you should try and avoid using baby powder or products that contain talcum powder.

READ: Did you know that house dust can cause cancer?

Sources: bloomberg.com, foxnews.com, cancer.org

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